During an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Wednesday morning, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, discussing the president’s State of the Union speech the night before, suggested that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) “smile a lot more often.”
“I think Nancy Pelosi looks like that all the time,” Sanders said, after Cuomo suggested Pelosi had seemed frustrated during President Trump’s speech. “I think she should smile a lot more often. I think the country would be better for it. She seems to kind of embody the bitterness that belongs in Democrat Party right now.”
Sanders added that “last night was a good step forward” and suggested that Democrats as a group “let go of some of that” anger.
“They have to make a big decision,” she said. “They need to decide, Chris. Do they love America more than they hate this president? And are they willing to put some of those differences aside, come together, and do what’s right for this country?”
Aside from the fact that the press secretary’s remark was a sexist jab at the sitting U.S. congresswoman, as Cuomo subsequently pointed out, Democrats had plenty of reason to be frustrated during Tuesday night’s speech.
“Nancy Pelosi would argue — has argued on this set — that it is righteous indignation you see coming from her [centers on] the way last night the president identified the people who killed the children of those African-American couples that were their last night. As ‘illegal entrants as minors.’ They took it as code for “Dreamers” [undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children],” Cuomo said. “…The feeling with this president, he sees diversity as a minus. Not one story [about Dreamers] last night.”
Sanders countered, referencing the president’s recent immigration proposal on Thursday, which gives 1.8 million Dreamers a path to citizenship but curbs legal immigration. “Everybody didn’t get everything they wanted but the country is getting what they need,” she said, adding, “Democrats and Republicans should both be celebrating.”
The Trump administration has spent much of the past year targeting young, undocumented immigrants, as well as the skilled and educated legal immigrants he purports to admire. He’s also made several derogatory comments about immigrants from Mexico, Haiti, and various African nations, dubbing the latter “sh*thole countries” during a bipartisan meeting with lawmakers earlier in the month.
Pelosi had warned Democrats on Tuesday morning, ahead of Trump’s State of the Union speech, that those planning to walk out during his remarks, in protest of his controversial policies, should stay home. Instead, she suggested Democrats let his stances speak for themselves.
“Let the attention be on his slobbering self,” she told her colleagues during their weekly private meeting, according to Politico. “If you want to walk out, don’t come in.”
Pelosi wasn’t alone in her frustration with Trump’s speech on Tuesday night. Several other Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and the majority of the Congressional Black Caucus, expressed their displeasure at various points throughout the evening. The latter group appeared particularly unimpressed as Trump bragged about African-American unemployment.
“And something I’m very proud of, African-American unemployment stands at the lowest rate ever recorded,” Trump said. The line received wild applause from Republicans, but as the camera panned over to the Democratic side of the aisle, most of the Congressional Black Caucus appeared unmoved.
While it’s true that Black unemployment has decreased to a record low of 6.8 percent, Trump’s supporters have ignored the fact that much of the credit belonged to the Obama administration, whose “sound decisions” have allowed Trump to “[reap] the rewards, economic analyst Janelle Jones told ThinkProgress this week.
“There’s nothing in [Trump’s] policies that have led to a quick turnaround in black unemployment over the past 12 months,” Jones said.